Canyon Lake Fire/EMS May Limit Emergency Transports
In a statement signed yesterday by the fire chief, assistant fire chief and division chief/EMS, Canyon Lake Fire/EMS said it is making temporary changes to the way it responds to calls including limiting emergency transports as-needed to avoid a surge in emergency-room visits.
These are in addition to precautionary measures it announced the first week in March (see below).
The department said it will rely on physician guidance to limit non-emergency transports to emergency departments as needed. Family members and friends will not be allowed in ambulances unless necessary. Exceptions will be made for parents, guardians, and wards of children.
The district also suggests limiting visitors to hospitals.
“This is a dynamic situation, but as the fire service, this is what we plan and prepare for,” Fire Chief Darren Brinkkoeter, Assistant Fire Chief Robert Mikel, and Division Chief, EMS Brandon Kludt said in their letter. “Since 1964 when our roots were planted, our department has strived to provide exceptional service to our citizens, and we will remain the public safety entity with whom you can trust your lives and property with.”
Other changes include:
- 911 screening of illness/travel history.
- Awake patients will be initially assessed from six-feet away by one crew member.
- Waves or fist bumps will replace handshakes.
- Public relations events are suspended.
- Station tours are suspended.
- Citizens Fire Academy is suspended.
- Visitors to fire stationswill be screened.
Changes Announced Earlier This Month
Canyon Lake Fire/EMS (Comal County ESD No. 3) is following guidelines established by Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC) and is actively screening 911 callers for potential Novel 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Fire Chief Darren Brinkkoeter said Canyon Lake firefighters will respond to suspected cases utilizing treatment, transport and decontamination policies and procedures outlined by STRAC.
STRAC is designated by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to develop, implement and maintain the regional trauma and emergency healthcare system for 22 counties.
However, he stresses there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canyon Lake or Comal County and urges residents — as simple as it may sound — to wash their hands and stay home when feeling sick.
A March 4 press release issued by New Braunfels Fire Department (NBFD) also describes guidelines first responders would follow in the event of a suspected COVID-19 call.